It’s easy to dismiss the girls from St. Joseph’s Convent as “stush, rich girls” who have everything handed to them, including a sizeable portion of each year’s national scholarship awards. But what most people don’t know is that there’s a method to the “Convent girl” madness. Wouldn’t you like to know the secrets to their success?

1. The Uniform: Convent girls constantly get mocked for their “pizza boys” uniform, and with good reason: It’s pretty unflattering. But what you didn’t know is that it’s also uncomfortable and itchy. It’s hard to fall asleep in class with that fabric constantly rubbing against your skin. They’re basically forced to pay attention.

2. They Don’t Have A Mayfair: The legend goes that SJC no longer has a Mayfair because of a long-forgotten incident with a strange man and a glass bottle on school property some years ago. But today, not having a Mayfair as a distraction gives SJC girls valuable time to focus on school work. Granted, they still sneak into every other school’s mayfair….

3. Ducking Assembly: Every Monday morning, SJC has a school-wide assembly. Attendance is mandatory, but the occasion is…less than popular. Finding new and creative ways to hide from teachers and prefects during that weekly 30 minutes helps SJC girls develop valuable deductive reasoning skills that come in handy in those tricky CAPE exams.

4. Overbearing Parents: The rumors are true. Parents of girls going to SJC tend to be a little…high strung. Many of the girls are “legacy,” meaning they had mothers, sisters or aunts who also attended before them. The pressure to maintain the family name keeps parents on their girls’ case about getting homework done and completing IAs, because if they don’t, the entire family line is going to hear about it, and the principal is going to remind you of what great students your sisters/aunts/cousins were.

5. Rolled-Up School Skirts: It is fabled that a Convent girl’s IQ increases 10 points for every time she rolls up her skirt. Considering that most of the students are pretty bright to begin with, you can imagine how brilliant they are when the skirt is rolled up four and five times. Next time you see a Convent girl with a skirt you think is just a little too short, don’t worry. It’s a tactical advantage.

6. Proximity to CIC: If SJC is one of the top girls’ schools, then St. Mary’s College is one of the best boys’ schools, and having the two institutions right across the street from each other leads to some fierce academic competition. In the battle of the sexes, Convent girls are determined to win.

7. Dedicated Teachers: Trinidad is chock full of amazing and dedicated teachers. But SJC’s teachers will hunt you down in the library during their lunch hour to make sure you turned in your SBAs and IAs. No one was going to fail on their watch, and they took extra time to make sure none of the girls fell through the cracks.

8. The Notice Board: SJC has a tradition of posting CXC and CAPE results on the school notice boards for everyone to see. If you slacked off in English Literature and ended up with a 4, everyone would know. Avoiding the public embarrassment of having the whole school know your bad grades is great motivation to keep your nose to the grindstone. Nobody wants to be the one whose bad grade interrupted the “rain” of 1s on the notice board.

9. Convent Paper: Here’s a trade secret: Convent has its own lined paper printed that students must use to take exams. Not using the mandated paper can mean an automatic fail. It might seem harsh, but the cool blue tones of the 3-holed paper decorated with the school’s crest is just enough to remind the girls that the school is always watching during exams, and if you cheat, they’ll know about it. The only alternative is to actually study!

10. The Accent: The “Con-vunt accent” is legendary. It has magical powers. Trust me on this.

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